Salton Sea is set in a small desert town in 2002. Brian has been offered a job in Washington DC., where the Beltway Sniper continues to strike fear in the population. Ramona, his wife, is reluctant to make such a move and is even more opposed to his idea of using the opportunity to start a family of their own. With the country recovering from 9/11 and on the brink of war, Brian’s dreams of escape seem unlikely and he is forced to question the justification for the optimism that was instilled in him as a child. Their relationship becomes strained and is only made worse by Brian’s growing anxiety brought on by Sniper coverage in the media. This ultimately leads them to take a desperate trip to the Salton Sea, a faded seaside resort destination, where only a year ago they had honeymooned.
In the 1950’s, the Salton Sea was a resort destination, designed with the hope that it would one day rival Palm Springs. Today it remains as a living ghost town. It is one of the lowest socio-economic zones in all of California and is slowly being reclaimed by the elements. Pollution and increasing salinity in the water destroyed its chances of being a paradise in the desert. Today, rotting fish, abandoned motels and diners and retirees still holding onto the dream are the only evidence of what it had once been.
"I discovered the Salton Sea a year after moving to California and instantly fell in love with its strange beauty. It’s like America, changing and constantly redefining itself. Through this transformation, vast portions of the country become forgotten and ignored. These places and the people who inhabit them become trapped in a time capsule. A sea that once held promise, a relationship that once felt love and a country whose fate is yet to be determined; these are the characters of this contemporary western.
In George McCormick's book, the landscape becomes the main character and those who inhabit it are mere pieces of it; pieces of something far greater. His stories are unlike anything I had read before and the more I thought about it, the more I knew that I wanted to translate them to the screen.
With this film, I want to show the people and places Hollywood cowers from exploring, and capture this location before it gives way to time completely. With few films having been shot out there, I will have full creative liberty to introduce audiences to the enchantment and heartbeat I know the Sea holds." - Michael Stevantoni, Writer/Director
Salton Sea is based on a book of the same name by George McCormick.
"These are stories of the American West, a 21st century West where everyone works a shit job; whose denizens know all too well that the dreams they've dreamt of that place are just that, dreams; where the natural world has all but disappeared—often because we refuse to look up and see it. Like the inland sea that gives this collection its name, whose algae blooms 'cumulous, bloody forms just under the surface,' there is beauty in their ruin."—Bayard Godsave
George McCormick is the author of the story collection Salton Sea, as well as the novel Inland Empire. A winner of a 2013 O'Henry Prize, McCormick is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma.
- NASSER AKKARI: Co-Producer
- MIKAYEL NGUYEN: Associate Producer
- WESLEY YEN: Line Producer
- NICOLE JORDAN-WEBBER: 1st Assistant Director
- HANNAH GELLER: Costume Designer
- COLEMAN PARKS: Editor
- HELENA MCGILL: Production Sound
- TIM ROUSSEAU: Co-Writer
THOMAS TAUGHER'S: CINEMATOGRAPHY REEL
Salton Sea is set to begin principal photography this August, filming in and around Yucca Valley, the Salton Sea, and Los Angeles, CA. Pre-production is well underway as we secure the last of our financing. Our post-production will run through the month of October to ensure the film will be ready for the festival circuit.
This film has been in development for over a year. It began with a visit to the Salton Sea in early 2015 and has grown immensely since then. The amount of support and love that has gone into this film from friends, family, and even strangers is staggering and the film would not exist in its current form without the support of the people around us. If you believe in independent film, if you care about helping young filmmakers grow and allowing us to express our voices and new ideas with no reservation, please help us and support Salton Sea in any way you can. It is a passion project for all of us and we believe we have a rare and special story in our hands that we can’t wait to share with the world.
Those interested in joining us at the associate or executive producer levels are invited to contact us to receive a more in-depth presentation and the chance to speak one-on-one about the project.
Risks and challenges
There are inherent risks and challenges that materialize during the film making process. Unforeseen problems will most definitely arise---perhaps every day, but we will work tirelessly to ensure that said problems are contained and dealt with accordingly. Already months into pre-production, our team is meticulously planning and problem solving to make sure our cast and crew are safe and we create the piece of art we intend to.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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